Daytime bay cruises generally begin with a quick jaunt to Los Arcos Underwater Preserve, off Mismaloya Beach. There's about a half hour for snorkeling or swimming—sometimes with legions of little jellyfish in addition to the turtles that feed on them. Cruises then proceed to Yelapa, Quimixto, or Playa las Animas, or to Islas Marietas for whale-watching (in winter), snorkeling, swimming, and lunch. Horseback riding is usually available at an additional cost (about $15).
There are plenty of tours available; our list contains some of the most popular and professional.
Buy your ticket from licensed vendors along the boardwalk at Los Muertos Beach, online, or through area tour operators. Prices are fluid; like car salespeople, the ticket sellers give discounts or jack up the price as the market allows. Full-day booze cruises cost about $40–$55 per person, including open bar, Continental breakfast, snacks, and snorkeling and/or kayaks. Three-hour sunset cruises with access to an open bar cost about $85 per person. Dinner cruises start at $85.
Boana Hot Springs. Boana Hot Springs offers a twice-weekly romantic hot spring tour ($75). Included are transportation, a candlelight dinner, and open bar. In high season tours operate Tuesday and Friday, leaving at 4:45 pm and returning to PV at midnight. To hold a spot, make a deposit in person at Boana's office in Boana Torre Malibu, behind Blue Chairs on Highway 200 just south of the Romantic Zone. Boana Torre Malibu Condo-Hotel, Calle Amapas 325, Col. E. Zapata, Zona Romántica, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, 48399. 322/222–0999. www.boana.net.
Diana's Gay Cruise. Diana's Gay Cruise is a booze-and-beach cruise (Thursdays and most Fridays in high season) popular with lesbians and gays. Straights are also welcome, but minors are not. Go for the swimming, snorkeling, and lunch on the beach at Las Animas or another area beach, or for the unlimited national-brand beers and mixed drinks. Most of the time is spent on the boat. It's easiest to reserve tickets ($80) online using PayPal. Private tours are also available. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. 322/222–1510 in PV; 866/514–7969 in U.S. for reservations. www.dianastours.com.
Marigalante. A true sailing vessel that has circumnavigated the world more than once, the Marigalante has a pirate crew that keeps things hopping for kids and teens with games, snorkeling, kayaking, or banana-boat rides during a seven-hour day cruise. The five-hour dinner cruise, with open bar, snacks, and pre-Hispanic show, is for adults only and has some bawdy pirate humor. Women who don't want to be "kidnapped" may prefer the day cruise or another operator. Both tours cost $85 for adults and about half that for kids under 12. Buy tickets online at a discount or from licensed vendors in town. The boat embarks from Terminal Marítima, across from Sam's Club on Boulevard Francisco M. Ascencio, in Marina Vallarta. Av. Politecnico Nacional 78 Int 304, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, 48338. 322/223–0309; 322/223–0875; 866/915–0361 from the U.S.; 866/954–5984 from Canada. www.barcopiratavallarta.com.